I was a senior in high school when I became a mother at the age of 17. This was certainly a defining part of my life, and there have been positive and negative effects at the cause of this. I was very fortunate in having the support of my family and friends. I have loved being a young mother. Despite the joys that it has brought, it has also contributed to delays in schooling and depression. Still, it is important that young motherhood be seen as more complex than simply a summary of negative statistical outcomes. It has had positive impacts including personal development as well as negative impacts such as depression. Motherhood has provided cause and subsequent effects that have shaped the past decade of my life, and this has been both bitter and sweet with the highs of loving one’s child and the lows of the economic, education and emotional challenges.
Being a young mother has been a positive experience because it is such an amazing thing to love another human being so much. Motherhood is amazing. It is the rush of joy when you see your child smile; it is the worry you have about them, non-stop, especially when they are small. I think this is the natural effect of having a child, this joy is caused by motherhood. I cannot imagine my life without my child. Perhaps having family, particularly my mother, to help me raise my child allowed for the best parts of being a parent to be highlighted. While teen pregnancy is the cause of many negative impacts and effects, it does not change that love and happiness that one feels about one’s child. This is not always the outcome of teen pregnancy, but like many supported young mothers I was lucky to have this as my reality.
You may be able to add some ideas that counter the “stereotype” of young mothers, too. It certainly takes the edge off of the less positive aspects. My own mother was such a great help; I suppose she feels the same way. The positive aspect of motherhood cannot be overstated.
There was a negative side to being a young mother. I felt I had to grow up too quickly. I certainly noticed what my friends were able to do that I couldn’t. It seemed that they had endless free time and they were able to earn and spend money as they wished. It was a willing sacrifice of motherhood, but sometimes I wished I could have more of a traditional early adulthood. I had assumed I would go to college immediately after high school, and this was not possible. Throughout my twenties I suffered from bouts of depression. Sometimes it seemed that my adult life was postponed. At the cause of a lack of education and depression I was unable to make as much money as I would have liked to support my little family. This became a circular problem; worry about money and whether I was accomplishing anything in my life made me depressed, and when I was depressed it was hard to move forward. I definitely wasn’t the only one to experience this. School was delayed for ten years. These were some of the negative impacts of becoming a parent at such a young age. The responsibilities weighed heavily on me.
Many studies have looked at the cause and effect of teenage motherhood on outcomes of the children and their teen parents. In a British Household Panel Survey they found that in every area, including education, income and health, being born to a teenage mother created worse outcomes for the mother and the child (Francesconi, 93). While I am sure that the researcher’s findings were valid, I did not think that such statistics should define the profile of young motherhood. I read with interest Card and Wise’s 1978 paper on the impact of teen pregnancy on the education and professional development of young parents. Again, it was all negative; education was truncated and the impact lasted one’s whole life. I disagree with this assessment, as it may be oversimplifying something complex. I can go just as far in education as my peers, and in fact early motherhood may have increased my capacity to be an excellent student.
Kearney and colleagues wrote an article in recent years that stated that teen pregnancy was not associated with poverty and negative economic outcomes, that this cause and effect was flawed as it was based on the poor having higher rates of early birth. This finding does not surprise me, because I have understood the benefits of the consequences of being a parent early on. I learned to be more organized as a mother. Perhaps it is dangerous to think so inflexibly about cause and effect, reducing all teen mother and their children to statistics of negative outcomes. To read the academic literature on the topic would lead young mothers to feel they are doomed, as are their children. I have learned discipline and maturity, because when a tiny life is dependent on you it is easy to ignore your own needs. It can’t even be described in terms I gave up, because the options never came to mind. The priority was child care, child development and stable home. I suppose that I gave up the travel, the dating, and the careers that many of my peers took on. It does not feel like you are giving up a trip when your real concern is the health and routine of your child.
The teenage birthrate has been decreasing since 1991 with slight increases in 2006 and 2007, but it is still much higher than that of other Western nations (Solomon-Fears & Ronquillo, 1). Given the reduction in teen pregnancies, policy makers feel that the statistics are going in the right direction. The prevention of teen pregnancy is a priority given the perceived social and other costs. I would agree that it is more difficult to find your path in early adulthood when you are also a parent, but I do not think that it can be reduced to the cause of teen pregnancy and endless negative impacts. I think there are success stories as well, and I will not allow aggregate statistics of the cause and effect early parenthood to define me. I became a wiser and more flexible person because of motherhood, and that can only serve me well as I complete my education and take on a new career.
Some of my greatest capacities and assets were developed as a young mother, including discipline, patience and openness, and I believe that these consequences of early parenthood will be a support in my future endeavors. I am preparing for that now with a solid education. I see this as something I do not just for myself and my little family, but also to set an example for my child and for other mothers who had children in their teens. There are many factors which are the effect of teenage pregnancy which will serve me well. My motivation, maturity and motherhood will ensure that in the long term I lose nothing in comparison to my peers. I wish I had that vision front and center the many times I felt like I had lost hope. I believed the statistical story and the stereotype. There are many cause and effects, and I propose that I have benefited from my teenage pregnancy, and given the lessons I learned and the education I am undertaking I will this will increase my ability to make a contribution.